Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Minnesota Vikings

This weekend for the first and last time in my life I rooted for the Minnesota Vikings. Even before I discovered Brett Favre with the rest of America in the early nineties, I knew the Vikings were absolutely cursed. It is worse than the old “always a bridesmaid, never a bride” syndrome – it is a deep seated doom. They are the Boston Red Sox (pre whatever year that was the finally won the World Series) and the Chicago Cubs rolled into one. I believe it is quite possible that some Norse God hexed them to the miserable experience their franchise has endured over the years.

But this year, along with many, many other Brett devotees, I was faced with an ethical dilemma – could I root against Brett Favre? Could I indeed place my hopes in the hands of a team I have for so long considered cursed? So I, like many other Brett lovers, threw caution to the wind and embraced the purple. Just like two years ago when the Packers, at the time lead by Brett Favre, came so close to beating the NY Giants, I so wanted to see Brett go to the Super Bowl one last time.

Of course, the nearly three hours I rooted for the Minnesota Vikings were three of the most regrettable hours of my life. I perhaps ought to take some solace that now when someone asks me, as they often do, what is the biggest regret of my life, I will finally have a good answer. I am also revisiting the plan of creating a 12-step program specifically designed for the special needs of Minnesota Vikings fans that I have long toyed with. To add insult to injury, I believe this might finally be Brett Favre’s retirement.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Ring in Wednesday, Apple’s new tablet

Today, Apple (a company I just bought stock in) will release its tablet device amid much speculation from all sorts of consumers and analysts. Apple will jump into the market that has previously been dominated by Amazon & Kindle presumably offering a sexier, souped up device merging the seamless simplicity of both the iPod and iPhone and decimating our need to ever have paper books again. This tablet is said to be generating more attention than Moses’ ten commandments, leading me to this week’s question,

what will the new apple tablet device be called?

If you are betting sort, you can put your money where your mouth is at the Irish website offering ibets:

Some of the favorites are: iSlate, iPad, iPaper, iPage, iRead.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Help, 1.19.10

This year, I am going to merge my love for reading with blogging by posting a BRIEF report on each book I finish throughout the year. Not meant to be material suitable for the New York Times book review, but hopefully something above a mere reading log entry. Also, this might serve as a bit of a decoy to the fact I joined the little club where they send you free books so long as you post reviews of them in your blog. This is not one of those entries, but believe me friends it is coming and I am quite sure you will know the books I was given as they are far from my normal preferred genre of fiction.

Okay, enough of an intro, on to The Help. I loved The Help – partly because I was able to imagine the thick southern dialect dripping off the characters mouths throughout the whole story and also the history major in me was enthralled with a different understanding of the Civil Rights Era. To backtrack, The Help is set in Mississippi in the sixties bouncing between two African-American maids and one recently graduated from college, white, rich, unmarried aspiring writer. As an aside, isn’t it funny how many main characters are aspiring writers? I suppose we do indeed write what we know.

The Help isn’t classic literature but the story is quite engaging and enjoyable. I found an honesty as all of the characters wrestled with class, race and the changing times (there is even anachronistic quote of Bob Dylan). Throughout the story, the love between African-American domestic and white young child resonated so deeply it made me (almost) wish I had been raised by doting, no-nonsense black nanny instead of my biological mother. Okay, not really, but just for a second I wondered what that would be like and for those of you who know my mother, please don’t tell her I said that. I think The Help would make an outstanding movie which is admittedly a terrible barometer of a book’s quality, but true nonetheless.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Ring in Wednesday – 1.20.2010

Today is our one year anniversary with Barack – do you think he will remember? Of course he will, yes, I am sure by days’ end there will be a dozen roses waiting for us all simply signed “Here’s to seven more, B.” And while although I am tempted to ask some of the more obvious questions for our forum today – what are his greatest accomplishments, what are his greatest failures, what ranking do you give him or any of the other “comprehensive” reviews we will no doubt be flooded by today from all corners of the news media, but I instead will ask a different question.

Let’s go back to inauguration day, I had a French toast & coffee viewing party with friends where we watched every single moment of all of the festivities including Aretha Franklin’s crazy hat, John Roberts’ blooper on the oath of office, George & Laura riding off in a helicopter and who could forget Dick Cheney in a wheelchair (what are you doing moving boxes anyways?)? Like you, I know I got carried away and perhaps even enthralled by watching the festivities and there were a few things that really caught my interest.

I know most of us pay much attention to Mr. Obama being the first African-American President, but I wonder if we lose sight of the fact that he is also the first President who grew up in Hawaii? Obama’s Hawaiian heritage was showcased during the President’s Home State Ball, which I don’t remember being the least bit interested in when it was a Texan on Arkansasan shindig (really how much honky tonk and barbeque can we stand?), but leis, Jack Johnson and luau faire made me want to plan my own Presidential Home State Ball which brings me to my question, what would your Presidential Home State Ball be like? And/or how would you celebrate your home state throughout your Inauguration?

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Ring in Wednesday

Last night, for the first time in my life, I watched an entire episode of “American Idol.” Over the years, I had seen bits and pieces – enough to know I like Simon – but never from start to finish. I don’t think I will keep up with the show, maybe jump back in towards the end of the season simply because it involves too much TV watching. But as I watched last night, I could help but wonder (CB) – why do we love reality TV so much these days? Bringing me to my Ring in Wednesday question – “Why is reality TV so popular?”

Monday, January 11, 2010

Johnny Wooden & Tommy Lasorda

A few years ago, I had a chance to meet Pete Carroll. I was leading a group of at-risk children on a tour of USC and one of our campus hosts had an in with him. I am pretty sure it meant more to me than it did to the kids who described as “some white guy.” But we didn’t exchange contact info and the clandestine meeting, which many of my friends have heard me exaggerate, really was little more than 10 minutes and I was part of a group tour.

Then why am I so upset about his departure?

I started asking this question when my brother called me at work Friday with the scoop – he knew I would be upset. My dad knew I would be upset. Most of my friends knew I would be upset. Why do I have such an emotional attachment to man who by all technical definitions of the word is a stranger?

Is there something bigger than Pete Carroll’s departure to be written about? It is my dysfunctional attachment to sports celebrities (everyone has heard me go on and on about Brett Favre) or is a larger issue with the changing face of sports? What happened to the days of John Wooden(or Johnny Wooden as he was known in my house growing up) when a coach built a dynasty and saw it through?

Johnny Wooden is said to attend as many UCLA home games as his health will allow for Pete’s sake (no pun intended) a team he hasn’t coached in nearly four decades! That is loyalty, that is devotion, that is a bygone era. He didn’t leave in the middle of the unmatchable streak of National Championships to coach the Lakers lured by a higher paycheck. I don’t doubt he might have at times wanted to, but he was faithful to a setting that suited him well.

Or consider another L.A. Sports Personality – Tommy Lasorda. He goes to many, many Dodger games. Moreover, last year during the playoffs he was acting like a freaking cheerleader – out of his seat, jumping around, waving a towel all in a clear effort to rally the fans because he himself is a fan. I highly doubt Pete Carroll will be singing “Fight On!” clad in cardinal and gold in fifteen years. I know your counter is that in the case of Tommy Lasorda he remains an employee of the LA Dodgers, but still, I think paycheck aside, he is very invested in the team he not only played all of his games with but one he helped earn its last championship ring.

But bigger than sports trends, do the untimely and painful departures of guys like Pete Carroll remind of us a profound shift in our culture? Have we become transient consumers not unlike Pete Carroll prone to flee when the going gets tough (NCAA violations, a terrible season, players leaving early, etc) and frankly a better offer is on the table? And so maybe we hope for those moments when he had success at USC that he, Pete Carroll would be better than us, the exception to the rule the noble one who boldly and nobly stands face to face with all that is bad in our culture and draws a line in the sand instead of well, cashing out for a bigger paycheck and less hassle?

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Somber Reflection on Events to come…

Dear friends, the time has come. I can no longer postpone dealing with the pain. I can no longer pretend there is not an elephant following me around to every room of every single place I go to. This most awful of awful of situations will not be made better by not looking it square in the eyes and calling it what it is. Terrible. Ridiculously terrible.

Pete Carroll will likely announce his regrettable decision to take a job coaching the Seattle Seahawks in the morning. Burn down Athens; bomb the harbor, pillage Rome, siege the city – whatever metaphor people use to describe devastating and irreversible turns of events that bring ends to empires. The Trojans’ glory suffered terrible blows this year, but this, dear friends is the end. And to think, coach Carroll knew Thursday night of the tragedy about to befall our beloved Trojans when he eloquently, coolly and perhaps a bit smugly commentated the BCS game.

This might be worse than Brett Favre becoming a Viking. Good Lord, do I now have to be a Seahawks fan? I think I might have to call in sick to work tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Ring in Wednesday

A leaf I am aiming to turn over in 2010 is to blog more often. I know you have heard it from me before and there were seasons when I posted a blog daily but alas I have not kept the pace I would like. So one action step to my resolution is initiating a theme day once a week which some of my fellow bloggers have modeled so well. I got a decent response from “Older than Matt Barkley” but as the Trojans are hibernating until August, I need a new angle that will endure for the entirety of 2010. Who knows, if it goes well, maybe beyond.

So with no more fanfare, let me introduce “Ring in Wednesday.” Every Wednesday, starting today, I will ask a question which I am hoping my readers will “Ring in” on; if that makes sense. Questions will be eclectic, I imagine some will be soul searching, some will be controversial and others might be local tips. Above all, I am open for suggestions. At the end of “Ring in Wednesday” I will post my answer. Resolved, I will also try to post early on Wednesday so as to make the most of those prime AM hours I have seen so many of my fellow bloggers using.

So this inaugural “Ring in Wednesday” the question I’d like to throw out there is – What was the best Movie of 2009? Let the fun begin?

Monday, January 4, 2010


Last week, a man I grew up with killed himself. Out of respect for the unimaginable pain those closest to him are wading through, I have very little to say save for today look deeper into the eyes of those around you for unseen demons they might be wrestling.